Our culture has started down a path of continuous development cycles. New products appear which are then replaced by something sleeker and faster the following year. Some people go to great lengths to get a new, cool device, like wait overnight outside of a store in the pouring rain. The video above by The Jullien Brothers illustrates this very phenomenon in a hysterical way, a literal race to get the “Z Phone”. Imagine a modern day episode of Wacky Races illustrated in Jean Jullien’s beautiful art style accompanied by beats from his brother Niwouinwouin.
Yau Hoong Tang is a Kuala Lumpur based illustrator and designer who’s work is totally mind-bending. What you see above are a series of illustrations he did where he bends light in the most interesting of ways. It’s pretty awesome how he was able to come up with so many different variations on such a simple idea. I think my favorites are the UFO light lifting objects off the table and the rainbows going back and forth forever. This is just a small sample of his work, and I’d recommend browsing through his Flickr as well.
While I was in Portland I had no less than five peple telling me “You have to go to Beam & Anchor.” With such an overwhelming response I knew I had to go, so I grabbed furniture maker and old friend Eric Trine and he took me on an incredible tour of the place. Essentially Beam & Anchor is a two story building with two purposes: Make stuff on the top floor, sell stuff on the bottom floor. The showroom of the bottom floor is fantastic, filled with more handmade goods than you can imagine. Wallets, chairs, pottery, stationary, you name it they have it. It’s like being a kid in a candy shop.
The top floor is a dedicated workspace inhabited by folks making furniture, upholstering, sopa making, painting and creating leather goods. I had a chance to meet Matt from Wood & Faulk who’s not only a very nice guy but an extremely talented maker. I’d known Matt’s work beforehand so it was great to poke around his studio and see some of the behind-the-scenes magic.
Funny enough wooden eyewear manufacturers Shwood, who are also based in Portland, released a new video in their MAKERS series featuring Beam & Anchor. I think they did a great job of nailing the vibe of the space and giving a sense of just how much passion there is inside Beam & Anchor.
Beginnings is the aptly titled debut EP from British shoe-gazers Night Flowers. Released back in March, the EP is made up of four early demos from the band. It’s a promising debut and a great listens for fans of dream-pop and shoegazing.
Their track Dials is a really nice listen and I love the sweet backing vocals provided by Hester Ullyart. Beginnings is available to download free of charge from the band’s Bandcamp here.
I’d love to move to Portland. There’s a thriving creative scene, great places to eat and drink; what more could you ask for? Last week Kyle and I travelled to Portland for a few days to meet up with friends. It’s astounding how many people I’ve come to know over the last 5 years. I’ve featured many of their work here on the site, and in some cases, I’ve even been able to work with them. What’s even more amazing is that they all know each other. Granted, Portland is a rather small town. You could walk across downtown in about 15 minutes. But there’s a sort of kinship between the creatives in Portland, a glue that keeps them connected.
In places like Los Angeles or New York I often feel like there’s an unhealthy sense of rivalry. That in order to survive you may need to keep someone else down. In Portland it’s the exact opposite. If one person is doing something new and creative it only fuels others to work harder and to better themselves. To speak plainly I’m envious. How I wish that Los Angeles had such a tight knit group of people to call each other a creative family. But due to L.A.’s unfortunate geography I don’t see that happening soon.
Add to that the fact that there’s a beautiful looking restaurant on every corner. Creativity doesn’t end at art or design, it’s just as apparent in the food and beverages of the city. I was in town for three days, had three amazing dinners and more cups of coffee than I should have. It seems as though the cities occupants have a desire to make Portland the best it can possibly be, so they’re constantly gentrifying The City of Roses.
All that said, I don’t think I could ever move to Portland. While visiting it rained, it hailed, it poured. It was sunny as well, but I’d call the weather bipolar at best. As I write this in Los Angeles it’s 75 degrees out, sunny, and just plain gorgeous. When I moved to Los Angeles 7 years ago I was fleeing the rainy weather of Sacramento’s soggy winters and I haven’t looked back since. When it comes down to it’s simply a matter of preference. For all the positives of Portland, the weather is the one thing I could never learn to love. Thankfully for me a visit is only a two hour plane ride away.
On the site of a former industrial warehouse, Andrea Maffei Architects (along with Arata Isozaki) have realized a new public library filled with light and bound by an undulating curtain wall. Before construction ever began, Maffei and Isozaki beat out 150 other teams for the opportunity to realize a new library for the city of Maranello, Italy. In their solution, a solid wall surrounds the perimeter of the site, and the plan looks not unlike someone has drawn a cloud or amoeba in a box. The library, itself, has a bright interior bound by curving glass walls. Between this glass wall and the solid site wall, a shallow pool of water surrounds most of the project, giving the impression of a serene interior. It doesn’t hurt that the interior of the project is mostly white.
Maybe I’m biased in how I read libraries, but the architects seem to be trying to establish a particular relationship between the sky and the ground. One that most buildings dont. From libraries conceived for patrons with their heads in the clouds, to libraries that avoid the ground or simply resemble the outline of a cloud, it seems that when you want to read, a good many architects think the first thing you have to do is leave the ground. In older libraries and art museums, this separation was much more monumental, with a giant wall of steps leading away from the street and into a kind of knowledge vault. But these are all smaller projects built in a time when information exchange has lost hierarchy and the modes of exchange are less clearly defined. Now, it somehow makes sense for all these different proposals to engage their surroundings the ways they do. It somehow makes sense for moats to appear in projects without irony.
For the last 85 years the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has ushered in Thanksgiving, a menagerie of some of the most beloved characters from pop culture. As you can see from this list there’s been a wide variety of characters yet non quite like that of Kaws’ Companion. Thanks to the folks at the Blue Sky Gallery they’ve begun introducing characters from contemporary artists like Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons.
It seems so funny to see someone like Kaws having a float in the parade, but I think it’s a positive step forward for people like us. I’d seen some talk of “Kaws is selling out” chatter on my Twitter which I thought was odd. A guy like Kaws has built his entire career on making art his own way, which for the most part was illegal. Yet when he does something legitimately then we drag him down? I personally believe we should champion any artist or designer who has the chance to be successful. If we can’t stand together then we’re bound to fail alone.
I think it’s fair to agree that the internet unanimously loves GIFs. They’re pretty amazing, right! In fact, just last week the Oxford English Dictionary officially named ‘GIF’ (the verb, not the noun) as America’s Word of the Year. I guess in a year that’s included commercial GIFs, Presidential GIFs and Gangnam Style, the humble GIF may indeed be worthy of this title.
One group of GIF-makers who love to make original content are rrrrrrrroll. Since April of this year they’ve been creating a wonderfully surreal collection of moving images which they share through their Tumblr page RRRRRRRROLL_GIF every week. I couldn’t find out that much more about them but over on Colossal, Christopher Jobson informs me that the site is run by an anonymous collective made up of five photographers and artists. If you’re on Tumblr make sure you follow their blog – their work is beautiful!
This week, folks in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving. The holiday is a time of reflection and appreciation, but most of us aren’t any good at that, so we’re doing what we do best: eating copious amounts of food and then shopping ourselves into misery and debt. This week, I thought I would share recent examples of buildings devoted to the decidedly loftier goals of education and civic engagement: libraries.
These are images of the competition entry by Danish firm JAJA Architects for a public library in Daegu, Korea. Although the firm did not win first prize (instead, they placed a respectable third) their entry still reads as an amazing place to relax and spend the day studying. The firm’s website features a slide show walking through diagrammatic design decisions, explaining the project through a logical series of drawings and renderings. The urban setting of the library surprised me because much of the material used to represent the project focuses on the relationship of reading spaces to the trees outside. Being able to achieve this kind of sylvan study space in an urban environment would be stunning.
The project is also refreshingly straight forward and neatly organized. In architecture school, it took me an embarrassingly long time to be able to distinguish daylight and sunlight. In the context of a library, daylight is pleasant and desirable, but direct sunlight is damaging and annoying. The massing of this project addresses the daylight dilemma, with each story of the project growing larger to shade the books below from direct sunlight. The only sad thing about the project is that it will never see the light of day.
Click Here To Download Episode 2
As promised, the second episode of The Build Up. We’re taking this two week schedule pretty seriously as it puts a fire under Jon’s and my ass to make sure we’ve got some cool ideas to speak about. As with the last episode the conversation is both casual and the topics varied, so prepare for an entertaining blend of thoughts, criticisms and ideas. On a technical note we’re still looking into putting the podcast onto iTunes so try to be patient. In the meantime you can listen here on the page or download the mp3 if you’re retro like that.
Our second episode is about a lot of things:
• Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA
• The function of museums
• Good Icelandic beer
• How amazing Thanksgiving is
• Good people in Portland
• The best football ad ever?
• The Hobbit posters are lame
• Good typography skills are necessary
• Jon’s new candle line Arlo Jacob
• The absurdness of that tiny Instagram projector
• Gimmicky products
• The importance of good customer service
• Brands using social media
• Jon’s obsession with shoe videos
• Good music from Lost in the Trees, Jon Brion, The Magnetic Fields, and The Avalanches
Feel free to leave us feedback by hitting is up at @thefoxisblack and @jonsetzen, or you can find The Fox Is Black on Facebook.